John S. Grioni never had the occasion to meet Prince Paul Troubetzkoy – Grioni was born in 1938, which was the same year the sculptor passed away.

But interest in Troubetzkoy’s life and work became his focus for much of his life. Ultimately, he held an important role in helping the world remember this renowned artist who was part of several art movements in Russia and Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century art movements, including the “Belle Epoque” and Russia’s Silver Age.

Grioni often called Troubetzkoy a “forgotten celebrity” and made preservation and documentation of him his life’s work, starting in college when he first learned about this artist and his contributions to artistic culture. For many years, he focused on trying to locate Troubetzkoy’s pieces around the world, information about his shows and any scholarly or mainstream articles that were written about him.

He also assembled a comprehensive catalog of the artist’s life and accomplishments, both professional and personal.

Grioni’s enthusiasm and passion was contagious, and many museums also enjoyed learning more about Troubetzkoy. Once they did, it didn’t take too long before they were putting together their own exhibits where they could share his work and his impact with their visitors. One of these was London’s Sladmore Gallery, which included a 2008 exhibition of Troubetzkoy’s work as well as provided financial support for Grioni’s research.

He also successfully discovered other like-minded art enthusiasts to continue his preservation efforts. This helped provide continuity after his passing in 2013, when the mantle of keeping track of Troubetzkoy and his work needed to be assumed by others with a similar passion.

Today, Grioni’s commitment to making sure this artist remained in our collective consciousness as an influential artist ultimately contributed to what we know today as the Troubetzkoy Archive Project.

Grioni’s efforts began when he was studying art in Rome in college. He learned about Troubetzkoy’s work and began to track down various publications, articles and journals written about the artist over the years.

This was certainly a labor of love since so much was written about this artist whose professional career began in the 1880s when he began creating animal sculptures and continued into the 1920s when he focused more on painting.

He was comfortable with different classes and cultures and spoke several languages. Many of his sculptures were of elites in various societies and countries, including leaders and members of the aristocracy. They or other patrons commissioned many of his works as well.

For the most part Troubetzkoy preferred observing and interacting with people and different levels of society, rather than remaining immersed in academia. However, he was asked to provide leadership and inspiration for a rejuvenation of Moscow’s School of Sculpture. School officials even provided him his own studio.

Grioni was able to gather a variety of interesting documents. Later in life, he was joined in his searches by Alena Trnkalova, his partner, and they moved to Bratislava in Slovakia, although some materials remained in Rome.

Following his death, Oliver L. Wooton became a custodian of Grioni’s Troubetzkoy materials.  Trnkalova was unable to continue the preservation efforts but shared much of his documents with others eager to continue his legacy.